Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sharks in Ireland: A JAWSOME Visit with Mr. Russell's Grade 4 Boys

 Due to filming commitments and travel, my Skype Classroom schedule this week was limited to 3 visits, but wow what a week.  I started off visiting with Mr. Russell’s grade 4 boys all the way in Ireland. The whole concept is so remarkable and breathes a new sense of energy and hope into the conservation and shark education movement.  

Mr. Russell’s class was JAWESOME! They were really enthusiastic and had some great questions including, “if baby birds get food from the mom, do shark babies also get food from their moms?” This seems very logical, but no, sharks do not get any maternal care. The world is tough for a baby shark. Most people think of sharks as these mighty predators ruling the ocean, but in reality life is pretty tough for sharks. When lemon sharks are born they are on their own immediately. 

In Bimini, they must seek refuge in the mangroves for the first three to four years of their lives. Very few of the pups born each spring make it to see their first birthday.  Barracudas and other sharks, including larger lemon sharks, will happily make a meal out of a neonate or juvenile lemon shark. 

Other questions included who would win in a shark vs. piranha battle and shark vs. a moray eel battle. These cracked me up because boys will be boys.  I did my best to answer in a fun and logical way and the kids exchanged high fives.  The students took turns asking questions and also sharing shark facts they already knew. I get really excited when students already know some interesting and important information about sharks.  The lesson flew by and I look forward to connecting with the students again on a shark project they will work on in the spring.  
A student asking a question via Skype

After the lesson Mr. Russell hit Twitter and some wonderful things to say.
“We learned about underwater filming, looking after our oceans and all about different types of sharks. It was SO good we're calling it epic! “

He also emailed me this note a couple of days later.
 It was the highlight of the school year for our class. The boys were so excited coming in to school today having been looking forward to this lesson for weeks - and it didn't disappoint! You could have heard a pin drop in our room for 46 minutes today as Jillian us about underwater photography and filming, about the different kinds of sharks, how we can all help to save these magnificent creatures, care for the oceans and our planet, before then taking some (a lot in fact!) of questions about her work with sharks, the sharks themselves and much more.

You've such a wonderful way with the kids, it really comes across that you're so into your work and really got the best from the class - they were hooked on every word and so enthusiastic to get involved and ask questions - as I'm sure you noticed with the sheer volume of them!

I feel that if things don't go well people are very quick to send emails/make phone calls and highlight it. Today, I felt that I had to let you know about what a positive experience we had in our class.

Thanks for making it a memorable Monday in our 4th Class!

I'm working on the photos at the moment. I'll let you know later when I have them all done.

Best Wishes,

I was absolutely floored with his kind words. I by no means do this for recognition, but it makes my heart so happy and hopeful when I know that I am really connecting with kids.
You can check out more images on Mr. Russell’s website and hear a podcast from his students HERE.

Thank you so much Mr. Russell. You are offering students and incredibly opportunity and encouraging them to be global citizens. I look forward to collaborating in the future. 

I also visited with Mrs. Crahen's second graders in New York and Mrs. Whyte's first graders in Canada. Both classes had great questions including, 
"What is my favorite shark?"
"What is the biggest shark?"
"How old was I when I saw my first shark?"
"When did I first go diving with sharks?"
"Why do I like sharks so much?"
I absolutely love answering the questions and hope the experience makes an impact. It is so critical to get students at this age excited about sharks and our oceans and really push the fact that they can make a difference. Hopefully there are a few more shark advocates out there in the world going home and telling their parents they want to swim with sharks!
 Thanks to Mrs. Whyte and Mrs. Crahen for encouraging your students to care about sharks and our oceans! Keep up the amazing work. 

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